Privacy Risks in Corporate Social Networking

Privacy Risks in Corporate Social Networking

With the rise of social networking sites like facebook, twitter, et al., it is no surprise that companies would want to jump in on the bandwagon, as the potentials are too great to be ignored. Word-of-mouth does wonders for branding, and companies can keep track of their store operations and customers. What’s more important to companies would be customer preferences – which, I think – is the holy grail for companies concerned with marketing and catering their products to the general public. While I approve of this, I can’t help but stop and think of the privacy issues that comes with social networking.

Whereas privacy is less of a concern on some social networking sites like twitter, sites like facebook and the upcoming Google Plus might expose users to privacy issues with companies that do not have a proper “social networking security & privacy policy” in place for a company. Additionally, if an issue does come up with a company, how is the risk to the company managed? I believe that this is tied to the company’s policy on social networking sites. For example, is one person managing the company’s facebook and twitter page, or is a team responsible for the tasks? Do they have access to their customer preferences? If so, is it within the privacy laws applicable to the company they are operating and/or residing in? It may sound as if I’m advocating that a fall guy has to pack if such an occasion occurs, but I believe that this is within reasonable legal risk management for a company.

Many more questions regarding legal and privacy issues with companies on social networking sites may come up, and it is a matter of time before something big happens. In the meantime, however, I think it is prudent to exercise caution and implement a policy to define job scope and responsibilities for employees, and reduce risks to the business in case such issues come up.

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